Gym economy: Sustaining healthy living, providing lucrative jobs
As more Nigerians become aware of the need to keep and stay fit, different ways of achieving this are being adopted. For health-conscious buffs, having good physique matters a lot. Aside eating balanced diet, exercise is a must for those desiring good looks, which goes beyond knowing how to combine colours or donning designer apparels. There are others, who also want to look good, but don’t simply know how to go about it. In spite of adopting measures, including embarking upon different exercise routines, skipping meals and so on, they have been unable to achieve the desired goal.
It is in providing solutions to the needs of people in this category that gymnasiums exist to provide training and fitness instructions to clients. Though the business is relatively new and not so popular in a culture, whose people exert a lot of physical energy, it is, however, becoming an attraction.
Mike Okeowo, a fitness coach, said not many people are into the business. Indeed, there is a belief that the gym is only meant for fat or obese people, wanting to slim down. But refuting this view, he noted that exercise and being fit is good for all, irrespective of body size, as it helps to promote healthy living.
He, however, explained that for the business to thrive, there is need to engage experienced professionals capable of attracting and attending to clients.
He said: “The gym business is a business in a business. You start small, but before long, you discover there are other businesses attached to it. The business is composite in nature and the investor must be discerning to harness the goodies.
“I started by training people, but today, through client contacts, interactions and needs, I sell sports wears, as well as, keep fit kits. I make good money from all these because clients believe I know what is good for them and so, patronise me.”
On how much he makes from the business, Okeowo said: “I make enough to regret wasting time on my former job. The business has paved way for different opportunities that I now have to engage others to do some of the work. It is a lucrative business, especially now that many people desire athletic and healthy looks.”
On what it takes to start the business, Abara Uweme explained that one does not necessarily need to be a fitness coach or professional to go into it, though there must be passion and tenacity to drill clients in different exercises and to also teach.
“Aside passion, one must also be able to identify different types of exercises suitable for different needs, especially those undertaking fitness programme for the first time. For instance, one should be able to know the right exercise for people with heart or kidney related diseases so that the condition would not be aggravated. This also applies to some women, who need certain types of exercise. To achieve this, a few months of training or working with people that have been in the business is necessary,” he said.
Explaining that there are different fees charged for different categories of training, Uweme said clients that prefer personal training (one-on-one services) pay higher than those that just want to be guided through a variety of classes, including workouts, kick-boxing, aerobics and others.
This is so because personal training means giving special attention to a particular person instead of a group.
He said: “Because of their status and perhaps, health condition, some people often request for the personal training, which is usually time-consuming and slow, as one has to adjust to the trainee’s pace. But it comes with very good rewards.”
So, what attracted him to the business, in the first place?
“The main attraction was to provide privacy and security for people that want to undertake some exercises. However, with time, it became a moneymaking venture, when different categories of people started using the facility and were willing to pay well for services rendered. We are open from morning till evening. We also run sessions in the morning and evening, including Saturdays and Sundays. This is informed by the need to remain in business and encourage clients use their convenient time for training,” he said.
On the required capital to start gym business, Mike Adaka, an instructor, said it all depends on how big one wants it to be. According to him, with an amount ranging from N500, 000 to N1m, one can start a moderate gym and later grow it, as desired.
He said: “The most important thing is having the facility, where one can train people. There must also be the necessary equipment, which include chrome dumbbell, magnetic bike, jump rope, motorised treadmill and stepper board, among others. In fact, one spends a greater percentage of the capital on acquiring equipment, which is key to the growth and progress of the business.
“With the current exchange rate, acquiring new equipment would be too expensive. So, it is advisable for a beginner to start with fairly used equipment or improvise, where necessary. But if one has sufficient fund for the business, then it is better to purchase new products.
“Aside right equipment, it is also necessary to get the right personnel, who may not necessarily be placed on a salary, but on commission, because things are not always easy at the beginning of the business. The reasons for engaging someone is usually to satisfy those clients that prefer a coach of a particular gender to attend to them. Aside this, getting someone to join you might boost the business, especially if such a person knows how to perform other activities you do not know.”
On some of the challenges in the industry, Fred Oboh, gym proprietor, explained that because the business is still not growing, most proprietors have to undertake the challenge of canvassing for clients by themselves. This, they do, by going to different places to meet people. They must also be creative by introducing incentives that would attract clients to their gyms.
Revealing how he has remained in the business, despite all odds, Oboh said: “I put my clients first. I systematically take them through introductory lessons to the most complex exercises. Aside this, I often invite a medical doctor to talk to them about the importance of exercise, their health and the need to eat well.
“Also, I always go for all encompassing fitness activities that will meet clients’ needs, as well as, enhance my profit. There is also a membership club that serves as a follow up or give clients the opportunity of coming back to use the facilities on a monthly or yearly subscription.”
On the import of the business to the people, he said gym business is good for the society, especially as the average life span of Nigerians is getting very short. But with exercise, the individual rejuvenates him/herself and lives a healthy, fit life.
On what the future holds for the business, he said: “I have no regret venturing into the business, because it has a bright future. More so, it is safer exercising indoors than on the streets, where one is not sure of who is following him/her. It is in providing the conducive atmosphere for indoor exercises that we make our money.”
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